Scottish annual budget for freepersonal care spent in nine months

The cost of free personal and nursing care for older people in
Scotland looks set to be a third over budget in its first year,
figures show.

The £126m annual budget was spent in the first nine months of
the scheme, according to statistics published by the Scottish

Since the policy’s introduction in July 2002, there was a 74 per
cent increase to 40,000 in older people receiving care at home, and
a 15 per cent rise to 8,000 in those receiving free care in care

But Scotland’s auditor general Robert Black cast doubt on the
quality of council data about uptake of free personal and nursing

“Gaps in the data make it difficult to assess the effect of the
policy and to forecast future expenditure in the area,” he told the
Scottish parliament’s audit committee.

Barbara Hurst from Audit Scotland said that all 32 councils
reported having “issues with the definitions of free personal care
and what people expect”.

There was also uncertainty about how many people had bought
personal care privately, but were now eligible for free care, she

But Scotland’s deputy health minister Tom McCabe said that free
personal and nursing care were devolution’s major successes.

“As expected, almost all local authorities experienced a
significant increase in the number of people claiming free personal
care at home and prioritised their spending according to demand,”
he added.

A recent Scottish executive review found the total cost of older
people’s care in Scotland could nearly double to £2.5bn by
2020, while Westminster’s community care minister Stephen Ladyman
criticised the policy as unsustainable.

Meanwhile, the Scottish executive is to pump an extra £239m
into community care services over the next three years following a
9.1 per cent rise in the number of people waiting more than six
weeks to be discharged from hospital in the second quarter of 2004.

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